Dirt School is run by Scottish National DH coach Chris Ball and runs MTB skills training courses across the country. There are only so many people that the Dirt School team can tutor in real life, so to bridge the gap it’s teamed up with Reset Films to launch an instructional DVD.
Chris Ball is a big fan of the laid-back approach to teaching, and the DVD goes along with that. The style is a blend of Chris talking to camera mixed with footage of him teaching real riders, and it works very well – he’s relaxed in front of the camera, and the camerapeople have clearly managed to be very unobstructive filming the teaching sections. It was all filmed at Glentress and Innerleithen – it’s even authentically raining in some bits. The actual film-making is excellent, with well-chosen angles that manage to be interesting and useful at the same time, and no tedious baggy bits surviving the editing process.
The Dirt School DVD is split into three sections, each with five subsections and all accessible from the main menu. There’s no option to play the whole thing through, which tells you something about how the DVD is intended to be used – dip in, find the bits you’re interested in and go from there.
Section 1 is broadly cornering in its many varieties. Section 2 covers roll-ins, drop-offs, manuals, hops and jumps. A lot of attention is paid to manuals, and rightly so – it’s one of the most useful things you can do, despite being often derided as meaningless trickery. Section 3 deals with body position in more detail before going into roots, rocks, steps and a bit about suspension setup.
We reckon that intermediate riders will get the most from the Dirt School DVD – the real basics are taken as read, so if you’ve just got a bike and aren’t sure what to do with all the gears, come back to this one in a little while. It’s pitched at people who can get around most trail centre stuff but could do so more smoothly, in better control and quicker, and that’s a sizable demographic, especially since even advanced riders will learn a thing or two here.